I must admit it hurts me when someone takes aim at the church on social media. Headlines such as “This Is Why We Don’t Attend Your Church Anymore,” or “People Are Leaving the Church and It’s the Church’s Fault” seem to make the rounds on Facebook and her brethren.
It’s not that I believe we are above criticism, it’s not that we should never undergo careful, painful self-examination. Two things bother me about the social media critics, however; first, I wonder if they express their concerns as outsiders who simply like to be dismissive of others’ hard work, or if they are insiders who love the kingdom and have expended heart and sweat, talents and time for its success. Second, I twist in discomfort because these “ecclesiastical analysts” have done it before the world. Paul fretted about this very thing when church members took each other to court, “and that before unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 6:6).
Watching gleefully on social media are a savage crew of the ungodly, enemies of Christ, the skeptic and the cynic. Perhaps worse, reading these words will shake the faith of be the weak, the struggling, young Christians trying to find their feet.
Timothy Dwight’s song “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord” expresses it well:
“For her my tears shall fall, for her my prayers ascend;
To her my cares and toils be given, till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy, I prize her heavenly ways;
Her sweet communion, solemn vows, her hymns of love and praise.”
Someone will respond: “I have every right to criticize anyone and anything I want.”
Obviously I am not in control of what the whole world puts on the Internet. But I would like to ask those of us who love the Lord’s people to be thoughtful, compassionate and cautious when taking shots at the church. Often the only winner in all of this is Satan. Surely, I ask myself, that was not the writer’s intent?
I love the church. I love her Lord. If the church is not perfect, well, that imperfection probably began with my own flaws. I can begin to improve the church right there, no cheap shots on Twitter needed! Let the enemies of the cross be the ones who take aim at the church. I urge those of us who love it to weep for the church, strive for its growth and provide solutions for its problems.
Anyone can demolish; it takes courage and skill to build.
“Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17, ESV).